The Samuels Family on the Road
Updated: Mar 22
We definitely get around. This blog is being written in front of a beautiful lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
We are lucky that both Gavin and I can work from anywhere. Last year we spent 110 days away from home. Not 110 vacation days, as we work throughout, but it’s great to have the flexibility to work from another locale. If we are back in our hotel room by 7pm and work until midnight, work in the morning a few hours and take calls and use our Blackberrys all day, we are pretty productive. Best of all, we rent our apartment out while we travel and, New York being New York, we make good money. As Gavin travels overseas business class a lot, we have lots of miles and only travel by plane when we can use miles and hotel points. So not only do we take free or cheap vacations but we make money while we’re away.
This year we have been to Mazatlan Mexico, Pesach in Nova Scotia, Shavuot in Montreal, Israel, France, Romania and now Colorado, plus many local camping trips in the mountains.
We love checking out Jewish communities all over and are so grateful to Chabad for their hospitality. We have been with Chabad in Tasmania, Australia; Auckland, NZ; Morocco; Shanghai, China; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Boulder and Aspen Colorado; Bangkok, Thailand; Anchorage,Alaska; Bucharest, Romania; Paris; and many more. My kids experience Judaism all over the world and also see how different families live. My son is always aware that kids in outback places don’t have access to Jewish life in the same way yet he is inspired to see they are still committed to Judaism. Talking about practicing Judaism anywhere, our Sukkot vacations include using our pop-up Sukkah. It’s fun and teaches kids, regardless of location, they are Orthodox Jews.
We are efficient travelers. Here are some tips:
*I have a standard packing list which I print out one week before our trip and make additions depending on our destination, e.g. cold gear, formal wear, pop up sukkah, etc. I have a sub list for each family member, for the bag for the plane and my general list.
* At this point I make a shopping list.
* I only shop day before so that I do not run out many times.
* I never pack until the day of departure. I compartmentalize what we need to do. This way, the stress of packing is reserved for the day.
* Packing should not take more than one hour. I take all our stuff to a central location and then pack.
* I sort underware into Ziplocs so it’s easier to find. Always pack extra Ziplocs.
* I pack clothes by class, putting formal wear together and pajamas on top so you can accommodate cranky and weary travelers.
* I pack a toasted sandwich machine and pocket knife. It’s amazing how much you can cook on it from muffins to omelets.
* I always have copies of licenses and passports. I have two copies in separate bags, plus all copies are scanned.
* We use logmein.com for remote access to computers.
* Train your kids to be helpers. It instills a sense of responsibility and helps speed up the whole process..
* We always check in online to save time at the airport.
* The best hotel deals are usually 60 days or less. To be sure that we have accommodations, we usually book on sites like hotels.com or direct on hotel websites. They usually have cancellation policies up to the day before so you can keep looking for better deals.
* Airlines are tricky especially with frequent flyer miles. The farther in advance you can book, the better.
* National parks open bookings exactly nine months before you want to travel. The cabin type accommodations are sold out very quickly. I create a task in outlook to book exactly nine months from Memorial Day, etc. They allow cancellation up to seven days before for only $9 only so there is no risk in booking early.
* Always look at many deal aggregator sites. You’ll be surprised how different, for example, Expedia and Travelocity can be.
* Always add all your confirmation numbers and booking details to an appointment in your calender. On the day you are traveling, you’ll have all the info for check in at your fingertips.
* We also travel with a high quality cooler box that can keep meat frozen for days.
* I use my smart phone to constantly look up facts, people and places and keep the family informed, e.g. what’s the difference between a Moose and an Elk.
* We keep the kids entertained by spotting animals, playing games, and finding places on the map.
* BBQ’s make road trips so much fun. Buy a portable bbq for $20. Tovel in the river, use instant light charcoal and in less than one hour you can be on the road. Vegetables on coals are yummy. Wrap peppers, onion, corn, tomatoes and bananas in foil and enjoy.
* Always have wet wipes on you even if you do not have small kids, they can save many a day.
Most importantly go with the flow. Flights will be delayed, baggage lost, and belongings left behind. We simply see these things as the cost of travel and we refuse to stress about them at all.
Metroimmas, share your travel tips…
Originally published: October 18, 2011